Buckle up for the holidays

By John Randle
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One of the greatest gifts you can give your family this holiday season is your continued presence in their life. Your job is considered one of the most dangerous ones out there, but there are ways to make it safer – slowing down, checking your equipment and buckling up. Truckers have traditionally resisted using safety belts, but that’s changing as the facts become known.

In 2005, 696 drivers of large trucks died in truck crashes, and 303 of them were not wearing seat belts. Of the 176 truckers who were killed after being ejected from their trucks, nearly 77 percent were not wearing seat belts. In the event of a rollover you are 80 percent less likely to die if you are wearing a seat belt.

If you are still not convinced, here are a few myths and facts about seat belts:

MYTH: Safety belts are uncomfortable and restrict movement.
FACT: A 2005 Transportation Research Board study on commercial drivers’ safety belt usage found that if the lap and shoulder belt are correctly adjusted, discomfort and restricted movement can be alleviated.

MYTH: Safety belts prevent your escape from a burning or submerged vehicle.
FACT: Safety belts can keep you from being knocked unconscious, improving your chances of escape. Fire or submersion occurs in less than 5 percent of fatal large truck crashes.

MYTH: It’s better to be thrown clear of the wreckage in the event of a crash.
FACT: An occupant of a vehicle is four times as likely to be fatally injured when thrown from the vehicle.

MYTH: It takes too much time to fasten your safety belt 20 times a day.
FACT: Buckling up takes about three seconds. Even buckling up 20 times a day requires only one minute.

MYTH: Good truck drivers don’t need to wear safety belts.
FACT: Good drivers can be involved in a crash caused by a bad driver, bad weather, mechanical failure or tire blowout. Wearing a safety belt prevents injuries and fatalities by preventing ejection and by protecting your head and spinal cord.

MYTH: Safety belts aren’t necessary for low-speed driving.
FACT: In frontal collisions occurring at 30 mph, an unbelted person continues to move forward at 30 mph, causing him/her to hit the windshield at about 30 mph. This is the same velocity a person falling from the top of a three-story building would experience upon impact with the ground.

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Please take the time to buckle up. Your family deserves the minute a day that might save your life.

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